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Unit 1 (P5): Spell Checkers & Proofreading

Use IT to aid communications (P5)

Spell Checkers

How do they work?

Spell checkers work by searching its current directory of known words. If a word that you have inputted does not match or is not found in the directory, then it becomes a ‘misspelled’ word. The spell checker then searches the directory for similar words closest to the misspelled word and then displays them in order based on similarity and likelihood by the top word being the recommended word.

Measuring Similarity

One way spell checkers measure similarity is called Set Similarity. How does the spell checker know that the word potato is closer to potatoes or tomatoes? If you put these words in sets, it would be easier to tell the similarity:

The more elements that the sets have in common, the more similar they must be. To put it into terms, how many letters do the sets have in common?

  • Sets A & B have 6 elements in common. (Potatoes, Potato)

  • Sets A & C have 7 elements in common. (Potatoes, Tomatoes)

This set similarity measure suggests that potatoes is similar to tomatoes. However, maybe you accidentally typed the word in plural and want it to be a singular word? Yes, spell checker does display more than one similarity for a misspelled word, but it is not the top most word on the list. This is one risk of using a spell checker and if you do not proofread your work and think that the spell checker is always right, then you could be in this situation where it is not. But luckily for spell checker, there are other ways to measure similarity in case if this problem occurs. Such as The Jaccard Coefficient or the Basic Spellcheck Algorithm.

Risks of Using Spell Checkers

One risks of becoming too reliant on spell checkers is that you can easily misuse the thesaurus and use words that do not make sense or choose the incorrect correction to the spelling mistakes making the sentence lose its meaning. That is why it is necessary to be able to use a thesaurus correctly as it is not good to rely on things that can correct your mistakes automatically.

Another risk of being too reliant on spell checkers is that if you use spellcheckers constantly, you will most likely not remember the mistake you have made and not remember the correction. This will make you confused to what word is correct next time. Also, it makes you so you are more likely to make the same mistake twice then to learn the mistake you have made.


Proofreading means examining your text carefully to find and correct errors and mistakes in grammar, style, and spelling.

Proofreading comes at the end of your text when you are happy with what you have produced. It is best to read through your writing once to check for grammar mistakes, then, read it a second time for spelling errors and the final time for punctuation.

It helps to read out loud to spot sentences that do not sound right to you. Doing this method also helps you spot other problems that you may not see when reading silently.

Another way to proofread is to use the search function of the computer to find mistakes you are likely to make. By pressing 'CTRL + F' it brings up a navigation window which you can search for words easily in your document. Search for "it", for instance, if you confuse "its" and "it's"; then this method of proofread can prevent that from happening.


Mistakes can make the sentence lose it's meaning. That is why it's necessary to be able to...


Mistakes can make the sentence lose its meaning. That is why it is necessary to be able to...

Another way in which you can proofread your work is by using a thesaurus. Proofreading is not always just about correcting your spelling mistakes and grammar. If you are writing an essay or a dissertation, the most important aspect of proofreading can be to ensure you use academic words where you can and try to vary your language. Using the thesaurus can find other words that are more academic than the simple words you are used to.

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